MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Sonata No. 1 in D minor Op. 28 (1907) [35.43]
Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor Op 36 (1913) [27.51]
Three piano pieces (1917) (Andante ma non troppo [3.12]; Oriental sketch [2.01]; Fragments [2.30])
Nunc dimittis Op 37 No. 5 [3.40]
Leslie Howard (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 21-23 September 2009
MELBA MR301127 [75.23]

Experience Classicsonline

For this recital Leslie Howard elects to play the hugely difficult 1913 version of Rachmaninov’s second sonata. It keeps company with the long and technically demanding first sonata and a number of short encores. Howard’s programme notes are detailed, interesting and very informative.

Rachmaninov’s first sonata has not taken off in the concert hall in quite the same way as the second. It requires huge stamina and a big technique - something which may put some pianists off performing it - but it is a very appealing work full of Rachmaninov’s long, melancholy melodies and richly coloured textures. The three movements are based on the characters of Faust, Gretchen and Mephistopheles respectively. Howard does a good job navigating his way through Rachmaninov’s dense pianistic textures in the opening Allegro moderato, and brings out the brooding, atmospheric quality of the work. The melodies emerge in an organic way from the heavily embroidered textures and are full of passion and shimmering, nervous energy. The development section was particularly impressive and something of a technical tour de force. There were some nice tonal contrasts and nuanced phrasing in the lyrical Lento. The build up of tension and passion in the more agitated central section was particularly impressive. Howard brought considerable rhythmic drive and impetus to the Allegro molto finale before driving the work to an exhilarating conclusion.

The original version of Rachmaninov’s second sonata is something of a war-horse and a popular choice for young pianists seeking to impress juries at international piano competitions. Howard’s performance of the opening Allegro agitato was big and muscular full of rhythmic impetus and a wide range of tone colour. The passage-work was handled well but I thought he could perhaps have done a little more to layer and delineate the dense textures. Howard’s tone in the Lento was warm and full and there was some nice phrasing. That said, I thought this movement lacked the wonderful range of tone colour and magical allure which Horowitz brings to the work. Howard’s performance of the last movement was disappointing with the textures coming across as heavy and ponderous. There was some breaking of the line in the final iteration of the lyrical second theme and lacklustre and untidy passage-work in the coda.

The Three Pieces from 1917 are the last pieces Rachmaninov wrote before leaving Russia. They are uncharacteristic and experimental works. The opening Andante ma non troppo was not published until thirty years after the composer’s death and is the weakest of the three lacking the rhythmic interest of the Oriental sketch with its motoric figurations or the harmonic and nostalgic beauty of the third. Howard gives an accomplished and polished account and makes a convincing case for performing them as a set.

The recital concludes with Rachmaninov’s transcription of the Nunc dimittis from his Vespers. The performance is stately and dignified although I was not convinced that he completely captured the work’s mystical qualities.

Robert Beattie




















Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.